White House Plumbers – Episode 2 “Please Destroy This, Huh?” Recap & Review

Please Destroy This, Huh?

The opening scene of White House Plumbers episode 2 will be explained later in the recap. For now, let’s focus on our two enigmatic men. Six months forward from the opening date, in Jan 1972, Gordon and Howard take two prostitutes to dinner in The Forge, Miami.

They awkwardly regale them with Howard’s Che Guevera story from his CIA days, but the pros are confused. The real reason is that the men want to hire their services to record members of the Democratic Party being intimate with the girls and their friends during the Annual Convention sometime later that year.

Gordon and Howard work at Nixon’s Campaign Headquarters. The nature of their work is kept confidential. Magruder, who was alluded to at the end of the last episode, knows about Gordon and Howard’s work. He is the Deputy Chief for the Campaign, a significant position.

Gordon and Howard take their wives to the Lakewood Club where the latter is a member. It is in Maryland and quite a difficult place to get into. During dinner, the party spots Lisa and St. John, Howard and Dorothy’s kids, and calls them over. The kids are high on cocaine and act accordingly. Lisa later creates a scene which makes Howard extremely embarrassed and angry.

It also turns out he has not paid four months of membership fees for the club. At the Department of Justice building, a few weeks later, we see Gordon and Howard pitching “The Gemstone Project” to John Mitchell, the current Attorney General and head of the Committee.

These are a slew of cheap, low-stakes projects to “influence the vote.” Magruder and John Dean are in the room as well, and Gordon keeps going with his stupid, crazy ideas. Howard tries to stop him, sensing Mitchell is dissatisfied. After he is finished, Mitchell scraps the entire plan and significantly cuts the budget.

The men leave, disappointed and unsure of what lies next for them. Howard has accepted his fate to work at Mullen. He feels he has lost the opportunity to return back to the White House.

One day at work, Howard faces the potential of a change in his fortunes. This is where we shed light on the first scene. The woman in it happens to be Dita Beard, a lobbyist for the International Telegram and Telephone Company. The letter she was drafting was a settlement the company entered into – illegally – with the Nixon administration for getting exoneration in a big antitrust lawsuit.

ITT committed the money to the Republic National Convention. Beard discussed it with John Mitchell, who personally agreed to the terms. Mitchell will be crucified for this and the two men feel this is their “Second chance” by saving Mitchell and Nixon.

Magruder believes otherwise and says this will blow over with smoke over the next few days… but it doesn’t. The US Senate is in no mood to let this go and Mitchell is fired and under investigation. Magruder is vexed and rejects Gordon’s offer to “help Mitchell.” He jokingly says if Gordon wants to help, “go kill Jack Anderson” (the journalist who exposed this transaction).

He takes it to heart and Magruder just about stops him. Gordon also makes it clear to Magruder that he is no joke and takes his work very seriously. Howard deals with an emergency at home as Lisa locks herself in the bathroom.

In all of this chaos, he gets a call from Colson, calling him back. Howard breaks the door down when Dorothy asks him to stay and pay attention to his family. Lisa is fine, Howard cares for his family, and John Dean tells the men that Beard “must be stopped from testifying.” He doesn’t say it out loud, but Howard understands. Gordon wants to kill her but Howard insists on “finesse” to complete the job.

Gordon gets his costume back on – the wig, the bold name, and even the limp – to pose as an attorney at Beard’s house. He theorizes the FBI might be surveilling her and she lets him inside.

Gordon asks if she has any medical complications, but Beard mentions angina and he goes along with it, taking her to Denver for a medical emergency when she is to be deposed by the US Senate.

Now, they’re flying out to Denver to depose Beard and Dean once again asks for Howard’s help. He too gets in an absurd getup and meets with Beard. He is clever and measured with his words to convince Beard to lie.

Again, none of this is the “official word” and Howard is playing a hunch here. He also gives her a box of money and the plan works. She lies and now the media speculates someone convinced Beard to change her mind. Howard watches his family together with tender and caring eyes. But that changes when he comes inside, starts playing Scribble with his family, and Lisa uses a pronoun, “Xerox.”┬áLisa storms out and insults Howard.

Gordon and he get their due at the campaign office the next day. Their reward is that Project Gemstone is back on, while the news is delivered by Mitchell himself, who is impressed.

Magruder informs them that they’ll be working with James McCord, the head of security for the Committee. Gordon feels this is wrong as he is on the payroll and a paper trail can lead someone back to them (which it did). But no one listens to him. Now, the Gemstone project was a slate of 12 ideas. Mitchell has only approved one – Project Opal, bugging the DNC.

The Episode Review

White House Plumbers, the unravelling of the Watergate Scandal, returns with yet another hilarious and action-filled episode. Project Opal, which was the bugging of the DNC offices, materialized after heavy spy work from Hunt.

While it may not be true in real life, the dramatization was top-notch, all thanks to Harrelson. He made the entire scene not just narratively exciting, but also brought meaning and depth to Howard as a struggling “family man.”

Justin Theroux is an able wingman and outshined Harrelson on a few occasions in episode 2. The real winner in this debauchery is the viewer, who gets this likeable – albeit “watered” down (no pun intended) – retelling of political notoriety at its peak.

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You can read our full season review for White House Plumbers here!

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